Safari literally means journey in Swahili, the language of East Africa. And a journey with a hint of adventure is what tourist pay for. A typical tourist safari consists of a group heading out into the vast wilderness, in places like the Serengeti, in search of animals and adventure.
If you decide on going to East Africa, it’s important to plan your safari and do research. There are thousands of options to think about â€“ and, if you’re going to the other side of the world on vacation, you need to make sure your expectations are met.
Here are some important details to consider: Where do you want to go? How much time do you have? Do you want to stay in lodges or camp outside? Which types of animals do you want to see? What is your budget? All of these factors play an important role when determining your type of safari. You should figure out these in advance before contacting any safari companies. Of course, they usually have packaged trips in various price ranges but it’s important to do some research, consult other travelers, and find out what is at the heart and soul of safari in East Africa.
It’s important to keep an open mind and time schedule while on safari. Of course, you want to see all types of animals, but remember that these animals aren’t going to stand on the side of a paved road waiting for you to pass. The safari guide is going to need to search for them, drive off the main road, around mountains, through the water and, with this adventure, naturally come minor problems. The Land Rover might get a flat tire, the guide might need to navigate a stream, the Land Rover might get stuck, you might want to take a break from all of the harsh driving. Naturally, minor problem will happen and it’s important to be patient, but this what makes them fun â€“ and makes it a true adventure.
Also, finding animals isn’t always easy. Sometimes you might have a great day and see all of the big five. Likewise, you might spend hours and hours driving and not see a single animal. It’s completely luck, but if you do a little research, ask other safari vehicles, and find out where the animals are grazing, you might get lucky.
This is probably the biggest decision you need to make. Safaris, at least in East Africa, can vary anywhere from $50 per day (in Kenya), per person to thousands of dollars per day. It depends upon your comfort level, the distances you want to drive, and if you want to camp or stay in a wildlife game lodge.
Camping is probably the most affordable, realistic option, and will give you a feeling of a true old style safari. At night time, loud noises are everywhere, animals are wandering through the camp, and it gives you a feeling of what the first explorers dealt with.
Usually, at least in Tanzania, a typical middle range camping safari runs around $100 per day, per person. And that’s nothing special or out of the ordinary. You need to have at least 3 people to get this price too. For lodge safaris, you can usually pay around $150 per day for an average lodge. If you want a private camp or a really nice lodge, it will cost considerably more. There are even some places that charge more than $500 per night, PER PERSON. It depends upon what you envision in your safari. Are you someone who can camp under the stars for 5 days and drink warm beer, or someone that wants a hot shower everyday?
Game lodges and private camps, usually have all of the western amenities, including swimming pools, hot showers, cold drinks and all those other things that are great to have after a long day driving in the bush. This, however, means they are very expensive. Usually these lodges start around $150 per night, which does include the day of safari, and the meals, quite often.
When most travelers go on safari in East Africa, many of them want to see the Serengeti National Park, perhaps the most famous place to view game in East Africa. Since most travelers start in either Arusha or Moshi, it’s important to realize that driving to the Serengeti is going to take at least one day, if not more. It’s not a short hop on a nice paved road, but a long, hot, dusty ride on a dirt road. If you plan is to visit the Serengeti, you should have at least 4 days, if not more. There are a number of great parks, such as Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire National Park and more. These parks make an excellent start and finish to your journey to the Serengeti. A good route is Lake Manyara, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and then an optional day to Tarangire.
How long should you go on safari? While the thought of looking at animals sounds very exciting, it is only entertaining for about one week. Unless you’re really excited about animals and love staring at them for endless amounts of hours taking pictures, it can only be interesting for so long because sitting in a car for 10 hours per day and then driving for 5 days can really be tiresome too. It’s best to break up your safari with day hikes, or a day of just relaxing at the lodge and try not to rush yourself to see all the animals in the first day or two.
Book Tour Locally or Abroad?:
This is a tough decision and much of it depends upon your budget and time. If you only have a quick week or two, don’t want to do any research, and can afford a lot more money, then booking through a western based travel agent can solve your problems. Usually these companies have already developed special relationships and can save you the time and energy from picking from a local company. But this means the safari will be a lot more expensive.
On the other hand, if you want to save money and don’t mind doing some research, you can get price quotes from local companies. Many of them provide the exact same service as your local tour organization and, since you’re cutting out the middle man, you can save a lot of money. If you do this, it’s important to see if the company has got good review. Ask for references, read the guide books, review all the information on their website. If everything looks legitimate, there is no harm booking directly with them and wiring them a deposit to reserve your rooms.